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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Volga–Don Canal

An Iranian Qadir light submarine and a hovercraft in Persian Gulf waters in late November, 2012.

Azerbaijan wants to by a submarine or two. Azerbaijan? Isn't that one of those land locked countries over in Stan-land in Central Asia? Well, yes and no. It does have some water front property, but it's on the Caspian Sea, which everyone knows is just a big lake. Okay, it's a really big lake: 700 miles North to South, 200 miles East to West. It is five times as big (in area) as Lake Superior. Since they do have some waterfront, I can see them wanting to have some kind of Navy, but supposing they did buy a sub, how the devil would you get it delivered? The Caspian Sea is a closed system, it doesn't connect to any oceans. Well, yes and no. Paraphrasing Wikipedia:
Lenin Volga–Don Shipping Canal is a  canal which connects the  Volga River and the  Don River at their closest points. Opened in 1952, the length of the  waterway is 63 miles.
The canal forms a part of the Unified Deep Water System of European Russia. Together with the lower Volga and the lower Don, the Volga–Don Canal provides the most direct navigable connection between the  Caspian Sea and the  Sea of Azov, and thus the world's oceans.
...
The actual construction of today's Volga–Don Canal began prior to WW2, which would interrupt the process. From 1948 to 1952, construction was completed; navigation was opened 1 June 1952. The canal and its facilities were predominantly built by prisoners detained in several specially organized  corrective labor camps. In 1952 the number of convicts employed in construction topped 100,000.
I sometimes forget the scale of the map I see using Google Maps. The section of the Volga River below Volgograd looks like a thin little line when in fact it is a half mile wide channel.
    As long as you are on good terms with Turkey and Russia, you can get big ships, including submarines, from the world's oceans into the Caspian Sea.
    This is the same part of the world where Peter the Great was fighting the Turks.

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